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Michigan State Medical Society Weighs in on Proposed Federal Health Care Reform Legislation

Need for continuing, open dialogue remains

EAST LANSING, Mich., July 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- While health care reform legislation currently in Congress addresses many of the principles of the Michigan State Medical Society (MSMS), serious concerns remain about a number of issues including the public health insurance option and the need for medical liability reform.

"It is our objective to be a constructive partner with Congress and our patients to arrive at health care reforms that are meaningful, fair and sustainable," wrote MSMS president Richard E. Smith, MD, a Detroit obstetrician/gynecologist, in a letter sent to Michigan's Congressional delegation on Monday. The letter was the culmination of significant health care reform discussion at the annual MSMS Board strategic planning session this past weekend.

In the letter, Doctor Smith noted that a number of provisions of H.R. 3200 "are consistent with principles held by MSMS." These include extending insurance coverage through insurance market reforms, ensuring choice of plans and eliminating coverage denials based on pre-existing conditions, among others.

"Serious concerns" remain, however, about the proposed public health insurance option (PHIO). MSMS suggested that before considering the creation of a full-fledged public option, Congress should initiate pilot projects "that would help provide data about how a PHIO would either positively or negatively impact an existing health insurance market." MSMS noted that physicians for many years have had bad experiences with Medicare funding and are "justifiably skeptical that a PHIO will be able to sustain the proposed physician reimbursement after the initial authorization." MSMS also believes that participation in any health plan, public or private, should be voluntary.

The cost of frivolous lawsuits against physicians also is a significant "direct or indirect cost driver in health care," the letter stated, and any health care reform proposal should look at ways to minimize the impact of liability on cost.

"It is in the spirit of cooperation that we submit these comments and will continue to engage in a constructive dialogue to enact meaningful reform," Doctor Smith concluded.

SOURCE Michigan State Medical Society
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